The chamber’s first Person of the Year award was presented to Irondequoit native, business owner and community volunteer Jeff Riesenberger.
Jeff Riesenberger joked that he was being “embarrassed to death,” then told the more than 70 community leaders and business people assembled for the Irondequoit Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Holiday Awards Dinner that, “I’ve learned from all of you ... the finest business and life coaches.”
The chamber debuted a new award, Person of the Year, at this year’s event, and presented the inaugural honor to Riesenberger, owner, operator and founder of Irondequoit Lawn and Landscape. The chamber’s aim is to present the award every year.
The first award went to Riesenberger, however, for the many volunteer and community efforts he often quietly undertakes.
“His volunteer projects are many,” said chamber board member Florence Bianco, chairwoman of the business recognition committee, as she presented the award. For instance, she said, Riesenberger has done landscaping work at Sunset House, Irondequoit’s hospice home, for 20 years, put in a sensory garden at Stepping Stones Learning Center, and done considerable work for the Irondequoit Community Cupboard and the Irondequoit Rotary playground at Camp Eastman.
“And that’s just some of what he has done,” Bianco said. “He also does lawn maintenance for people who have fallen on hard times, and has coached the ski team at Irondequoit High School for 23 years.”
Riesenberger grew up in Irondequoit and is a 1987 graduate of Irondequoit High School. He studied finance at Rochester Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Christine, have two children, Emily, 8, and Andrew, 7.
Riesenberger parlayed the middle school jobs he did cutting lawns into a career.
He said he is “flattered, humbled and grateful” for the award, noting that he “stumbled into a career ... which has become a passion, and that he simply enjoys being able to help others.”
Besides the new award, the chamber presented its annual Beautification Awards at its Dec. 3 event at the Rochester Yacht Club.
Best New Building honors went to East Ridge Diner, 765 East Ridge Road, built and owned by brothers Chris and Nick Gogos.
“We’re very honored; I can’t ask for a better town to be in,” Chris Gogos said as he enthusiastically accepted the award.
Best Renovated Building honors went to Steven Foley and Karen McGrath for the Irondequoit Chiropractic Center, 2164 Hudson Ave. Chiropractor Dr. Scott J. Harther is also associated with the practice.
“We did it (the massive renovation) because we loved doing it,” Foley said, “but we appreciate that you’ve recognized our efforts.”
This year’s Best Landscaping Project honors went to the entrance to the Sea Breeze neighborhood of Irondequoit via 590 North, from Titus Avenue north to Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay.
“We tried to create a beautiful pathway to where the land and waters meet,” said Irondequoit Public Works Commissioner Patrick Meredith, who accepted the award with Irondequoit Supervisor Mary Joyce D’Aurizio and representatives of Bergmann Associates, the firm that designed the project.
“The isn’t a Bergmann Associates award,” however, engineer Rick Bennett said. “It’s a town of Irondequoit award.”
The project, which incorporates four roundabouts, has also earned a statewide engineering award.
Honorable mention recognition for the beautification awards went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for new building, Shogun Palace and the Mediterranean-style building in Sea Breeze for renovation, and Gigi's Restaurant for landscaping.